ASTOLFI, Giovanni Felice.


Historia universale delle imagini miracolose della Gran Madre di Dio riverite in tutte le parti del Mondo.

Venice, Fratelli Sessa, 1623.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. (xviii) 877 [i.e., 887] (i). Roman letter, little Italic. T-p with engraved architectural border of angels playing trumpets, female figures, putti and a vignette of the Virgin. T-p torn and repaired to blank verso without loss. Slight toning in places, light water stain and little worm trail to lower margin (repaired on a few ll.), 12 ll. in KK-LL oxidised but clearly legible, small tear from lower blank margin of T 2 , minor marginal spotting, marginal ink burn to 3O 5 affecting a letter of side note. A perfectly acceptable copy in vellum c.1900, yapp edges, C17 casemark to t-p and a handful of contemporary marginalia.

A very rare, fascinating work on worldwide popular cults of the Virgin Mary—one of the earliest systematic works on the subject—an Americanum and Japonicum unrecorded in major bibliographies. Felice Astolfi (f. 1603), of whom little is known, was the author of an important historical work (‘Dell’officina storica’) and of several on miracles, a very popular subject in Counter-Reformation print. ‘Historia universale’ explores miracles and the popular cult of the Virgin Mary in the Old and New World, and in the Orient, through hundreds of fascinating anecdotes painstakingly drawn from Jesuit letters, and geographical and travel accounts like Botero’s. The variable collation of the preliminaries reflects the troubled history of its printing in the Autumn of 1623; the present is an early issue, with a blank where later issues display an additional dedication or a shorter gathering. ‘Although [it] built on a long medieval tradition of devotional literature, the miracle stories took on
new significance in the context of the early modern religious debates about the immanence of God. Astolfi addressed one of the major theological concepts debated in the early modern period: what is the proper role and function of miracles?’ (D’Andrea, ‘Miracles’). His narrative is especially concerned with the intercessory power of Marian images and their cult, and the immanence of God in physical objects. It begins with a life of Mary followed by a list of the relics (her body and clothing), with details of those preserved in Venetian churches. The first nine parts discuss the foundation of the earliest Marian churches and monasteries, accounts of miracles, the power of sacred images, iconoclasm, the miracles and local cult of specific images. From part 10 onwards are approx. 40 pages of accounts devoted to the wider world: Africa, where the Virgin makes Christian slaves escape the Moors’ prison, miracles in Manomotapa, Ethiopia and Angola, Christian fights by land and sea against the Moors; India, where a man’s rosary saves his sick, unchristened son, a bloody cross appears over the unburied body of a converted native, Monaian castle is reconquered after a procession, and Our Lady of Bengala is worshipped; the Caribbean, with a vessel haunted by demons at sea and saved by the Madonna of Guadalupe; Japan, with miracles during earthquakes, the miraculous healing of the sick in Bungo, the cult of Our Lady of Japan and Our Lady of Chitaoca, the burning of the Bonzi’s idols, the Marian cult encouraged by the Queen of Tango, devotion in the city of Amangucci, exorcisms, four crosses appearing on a tree; Brazil, with the foundation of the church of Nostra Signora dell’Aiuto, the conversion of a cannibal, the destruction of relics at the hand of Protestant colonists; Mexico, with praise for the natives’ treatment of the sick and management of hospitals, a Marian apparition to the sick, the Virgin’s feeding a sick woman; Peru, with the Marian cult in the mines of Potosi and a miracle against a demon pretending to offer help to miners, the care of the sick, the apparition of the Virgin to a dying native, the sad fate of a girl lying in confession, a healing prayer taught to a native; and China, with apparitions of the Virgin in the sky. Very scarce, fascinating and unusual.

Only one copy of this first ed. recorded in US (California State), and only 3 overall.
Not in Cordier, Church, Sabin, JFB or Alden (paper or online). BL STC C17, p.54 (1624 ed.). D. D’Andrea, ‘Miracles: An Inconvenient Truth’, in A Linking of Heaven and Earth, ed. E. Michelson et al. (2012).


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BG. [Mazzella Scipione.] [with] DE BRY, Theodor.



BG. [Mazzella Scipione.] Regum Neapolitanorum vitae et effigies. 

Augsburg, sumpt. Dominici Custodis. Coelo Raphael Custodis, 1605


DE BRY, Theodor. Indiae orientalis pars vndecima,

Frankfurt, typis Hieronymi Galleri, 1619


Folio. Two works in one. 1) C-T² lacking first two quires [4 leaves, A-B2 title and prefatory material]. Roman letter. 31 full page engraved genealogical tables and portraits with typeset explanations on verso, one tear with marginal loss, one affecting plate. 2) pp. 62 (ii); (ii) X engraved plates. [A-H⁴; a-c⁴] without last blank. Roman and Italic letter, first title with engraved portrait of Olivier van Noort with two natives at sides and with two map hemispheres, large grotesque head and tail pieces and initials, second part with separate t-p with grotesque woodcut ornaments, and 10 half page engraved plated with printed explanations, tiny single worm trail in lower blank margin of last four ff. Light age yellowing. A fine copy in stunning contemporary English olive morocco, covers double gilt ruled to a panel design, outer panel with a dentelle border made of small gilt tools, and a second border two blind rules and gilt laurel scrolls, inner panel with corner pieces of gilt laurel branch fleurons, filled with semée of gilt stars, large arms of James I within grotesque border, crown at head, gilt stamped at centres, spine double gilt ruled in compartments, gilt fleurons at centres with gilt star tools, edges gilt ruled, all edges gilt, upper joint repaired at foot, remains of blue silk ties, a.e.g.

The beautifully illustrated, rare and important eleventh vol of Theodor De Bry’s Small voyages containing three important travel accounts including the relation of Vespucci’s third and fourth voyage to America, in a stunning, finely preserved, contemporary morocco binding from the library of James I, very much in the style of Bateman. The first part contains all the plates from Mazella’s history of the kings of Naples.

The Small Voyages were printed in a total of 13 parts and an Appendix, at Frankfurt from 1597 to 1633; this is the sole Latin edition of part eleven of the Small voyages.“This eleventh part contains three narratives: 1) [p. 5-10] The relations of the third and fourth voyages of Vespuccius to America, in 1501 and 1503; it is a reprint of selections of the author’s: Mundus novus, first printed under title: Albericus Vespuccius Laurentio Petri Francisci de Medicis salutem plurimam dicit Amerigo Vespucci, Paris, 1503 but generally known as: Mundus novus. 2) [p. 11-46] An account of Robert Coverte’s travels by land through Persia and Mongolia [here, Church is incorrect. Instead of Mongolia, it is the Mogul Empire], after his shipwreck off Surat. This relation was first printed in English, at London in 1612; it is a translation of ‘A true and almost incredible report of an Englishman, that (being cast away in the good ship called the Assention in Cambaya the farthest part of the East Indies) trauelled by land through many vnknowne kingdomes, and great cities, by Robert Coverte, first printed London, 1612’ 3) [p. 47-62] A geographical description of Spitzbergen and a refutation of the claims of the English to the northern whale fisheries, with the journal of the voyage of Willem Barentsz and Jan Corneliszoon Rijp, in 1596, Cf. Church. It is a translation of: Histoire du Pays nommé Spisberghe collected and edited by Hessel Gerritsz, printed in Amsterdam, 1613, which is, in turn, a translation of selections of his: Descriptio ac delineatio geographica detectonis freti; sive Transitus ad occasum, supra terras Americanas, in Chinam atque Japonem ducturi, recens investigati ab M. Henrico Hudsono Anglo, first printed in Amsterdam, 1612. There are two states of the title page: in the first one, the vignette has two natives and a centre engraved portrait of Olivier van Noort, with two map hemispheres; the other has a native woman on the left with her child and a native man on the right with two ships in the centre. This copy contains the rare Plate VII, of a woman being carried in state to be burned with the body of her husband. This is often replaced by the plate, in which a woman is represented as throwing herself into the funeral pyre of her husband, used as plate IX.” JCB. 

“The language of Vespucci’s first public letter is compatible with the idea of a “new world” under and subordinate to the known configuration of lands. But in his second published letter Vespucci treats the southern and northern parts of the area he and Columbus explored as a single continent that is not Asia. This was a stunning breakthrough in the state of knowledge, one Columbus never achieved” Wills, Letters from a New World. 

This marvellous copy, with two works of particular interest to the English, comes from the library of James I (1566-1625), the first and probably the most learned ‘King of Great Britain’ as ruler of both Scotland and England. ‘He studied Greek, French, and Latin and made good use of a library of classical and religious writings that his tutors, George Buchanan and Peter Young, assembled for him. James’s education aroused in him literary ambitions rarely found in princes but which also tended to make him a pedant.’ EBO. His numerous books were often customised with his arms by the royal binder, John Bateman, who employed various style, material and techniques (M. Foot, The Henry Davids Gift, I, pp. 38-49, 52). This copy is of exceptional quality even within Bateman’s refined and wide-ranging output.

Church II 223. “Sole edition” t-p reproduced. JCB I 383. Brunet I 1341. Graesse VII 129. 


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CLERCK, Nicolaes de.



Tooneel der beroemder Hertogen, Princen, Graven ende Krygs-Helden van Christenrijck binnen dese drey laeste eeuwen.

Delft, Nicolaes de Clerck, 1617.


FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. (viii) 325. Gothic letter, with Roman. Engraved t-p with angel above, heraldic shields to centre, and male allegorical figures below, 82 half-page engraved portraits, decorated initials and ornaments. T-p slightly dusty, lower edge a trifle frayed, intermittent slight browning (paper probably not properly dried), small ink burn just touching one letter on E4 and S4, minor see-through or offsetting from couple of pls, light water stain to few lower or upper margins, small paper flaws to three lower outer blank corners. A very good copy in contemporary vellum, yapp edges, C19 bookplate of James William Ellsworth to front pastedown, glued paper slip stamped ‘Armand’ (C19).

A fascinating history of the most important princes (including two from the New World), noblemen and heroes (mostly explorers and navigators) of Christianity, beautifully illustrated with numerous engraved portraits, here in fine impression. The Flemish Nicolaes de Clerck (fl. 1599-25), printer in Delft, specialised in engravings from plates designed and engraved by skilled artists like Jacques de Gheyn the Younger. He also himself produced maps and dozens of portraits of political figures for historical publications (‘Drawing’, 191). In 1600, he was rewarded financially for ‘having dedicated and presented to the States General the depictions of the genealogy of the illustrious house of Nassau and the feats of war’ (Klinkert, ‘Information’, 62). Each section of ‘Tooneel’ begins with a textual genealogy, focusing at length on major figures, depicted in handsome portraits. These include Cesare Borgia, Alessandro Farnese, William of Orange, Cosimo I de’ Medici, Gaston de Foix, Edward Prince of Wales and Philip the Good. The portraits (and biographies) of the Americana section were drawn from André Thevet’s famous ‘Les vrais pourtraits et vies des hommes illustres’ (1584). These include Montezuma, King of Mexico, Atahualpa, King of Peru, Hernán Cortés, Francisco Pizzarro, Ferdinando Magellano and Amerigo Vespucci (this last filed in the section of de’ Medici, his patrons). Thevet’s ‘Les vrais pourtraits’ was hitherto the closest attempt to replicate a faithful image of New World figures. Montezuma was the only prince whose image Thevet had not managed to acquire, so he used as a source the Aztec ‘Codex Mendoza’ (c.1529-33); nobody was allowed to look at the king, though Cortés had described him in a letter to Charles V. For Atahualpa, Thevet used an image from his personal collection; no native portrait has survived (Hajovsky, ‘André Thevet’, 335). An unexpected Americanum, with fresh illustrations in the Netherlandish style.

Only three copies recorded in the US (Folger, Lehigh and JFB).

Alden 617/42; Sabin 13637. Not in BM STC Dutch, Graesse or Lipperheide. W. Liedtke et al., Vermeer and the Delft School (London, 2001); C.M. Klinkert, ‘Information or Indoctrination?’, in Selling and Rejecting Politics in Early Modern Europe, ed. M. Gosman et al. (Leuven, 2007), 59-70; P.T. Hayovski, ‘André Thevet’s ‘true’ portrait of Moctezuma and its European legacy’, Word & Image 25 (2009), 335-52.


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PTOLEMY, Claudius


The Compost of Ptolomeus, Prince of Astronomie. Very necessary and profitable for all such as desire the knowledge of the famous art of astronomie.

Printed at London, By M. P[arsons] for Henry Gosson, and are [to be sold by Edward Wright, 1638[?].


4to. 72 unnumbered leaves. A-I⁸. Black letter some Roman. Large astronomical woodcut of ‘K. Ptholomeus’ and an astronomer (just chipped at fore-edge) on title, woodcut and typographical headpieces, small floriated initials, sixty three woodcuts in the text, including a figure of the heavens, the 12 signs of the zodiac, a world map, physiognomoligcal portraits, a large woodcut of a dragon in landscape on verso of last, chiromantic hands, and stars etc, monogram ‘H. R.’ with shelf mark on fly. Light general age browning, heavier in places, title slightly dusty, light waterstaining on first few leaves, occasional mark or stain. A good copy in English calf circa 1800, covers bordered with a single gilt rule, spine gilt ruled, title gilt lettered, a.e.r. a little rubbed. 

Exceptionally rare edition of this popular astronomical text, very charmingly illustrated with numerous woodcuts, the last of the early editions, the only edition printed in the seventeenth century. The rather rudimentary map is marked i.a. with Mexico, New England, the West indies, Peru, the Straits of Magelan, Brasil and Virginia. Below the two southmost capes is a the land mass described as the ‘South Continent’.

The work was originally translated from the French ‘Compost et kalendrier des bergiers’, and appeared in two forms throughout the C16th; one as ‘The Kalender of Shepards’ and the other with the title ‘The Compost of Ptholomeus’. Although they are often described as containing nothing from Ptolemy, other than the falsification of authorial attribution, the work does have a general articulation of some of the astrological matters set forth in Ptolemy’s Quadripartitum. The influence of astronomy over individuals is discussed, and this version has a chapter on palmistry added at the end. “In the ‘Kalendar of Shepherds’, the putative source of the astrological and health information is initially an unnamed, ancient shepherd. … the authentication for the information in the text was a natural and pastoral figure of wisdom, the void of book learning. In the prologue, it is also stated that ‘this boke was made for them that be no Clerkes to brynge them to great understandynge’ thus identifying itself as a text for a non-elite readership yet at the same time offering access to the very traditional classical learning skills and intimating a connection between the occult knowledge and active reading. .. In Notary’s 1506 edition, Ptolemy is merely cited in the table of contents in relation to the twelve signs of the zodiac but not mentioned in the text. In Pynson’s 1518 edition, Ptolemy is referenced both textually and visually, again in relation to the zodiac, but as a very minor reference in the text. .. Beginning in the 1530s, the strand of the multi-text breaks off; the text is condensed, new images are added, others are eliminated, and the title is changed to the ‘Compost of Ptolomeus, Prince of Astronomy’ .. These editions, initially published by Robert Wyer, make a significant modification: the name of the Ptolemy is increasingly inserted into the verbal text, shifting the authentication from the ancient shepherd to Ptolemy. .. The Catholic feast day calendar is eliminated, along with much of the Christian moralising and, generally, a narrower focus on the astrological components. Neither the woodblock image of the shepherd nor that of the scholar carries over once the text is renamed ‘The compost of Ptolomeus;’ instead, the symbolic function previously vested in the figure of the scholar shepherd is now conflated into the single figure of Claudius Ptolomy, ‘Prince of Astronomeye’. ..In his editions of the Compost, Wyer not only strengthened the association of the verbal and visual text with Ptolemy, but also incorporated specifically geographical information; Wyer appends a ‘Rutter’, a navigational chart of the distances between various port cities, consequently increasing the function of the text as a source of geographic information.. For English readers in the early print era the images of and attribution to Ptolemy thus narrate and mediate an encounter with emerging geographical thought. The textual and visual attribution to Ptolemy created a kind of aura for the text that mystified the diffuse authorship of the work, and that subsumed the fascination with the occult and Catholic ritual into a pseudo-scientific discourse.” Keith D. Lilley ‘Mapping Medieval Geographies: Geographical Encounters in the Latin West’.

Unsurprisingly all editions of this ephemeral and popular work it are exceptionally rare; ESTC records no more than two copies of any of the five earlier editions of this text, and records this, the only seventeenth century edition, in three copies only, two at the BL and one at Birmingham University library. No copies recorded in the US. 

ESTC S112005. STC 20482. Not in Cantamessa. 


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SANDOVAL, Prudencio de


Historia de la vida y hechos del emperador Carlos V, primera parte. [with] Historia de la vida y hechos del emperador Carlos V…parte segunda.

Pamplona, Bartholomé Paris…a costa de Pedro Escuer, 1634


Folio. 2 vol. pp. (xxviii) 895 (xxxi) (with) (iv) 898 (xiv), without engraving of Charles V in vol. 2. Roman letter, with Italic, mostly double column, t-p in red and black. Woodcut arms of Charles V to t-ps, full-page engraved portrait of Charles V to verso of e4 in vol. 1, decorated initials and headpieces, armorial tailpieces. Varying degrees of age browning, vol. 1: spotting to first gathering, faint marginal waterstaining in a few places, tiny worm trail to upper blank margin of 4z4-5c4, vol. 2: lower outer blank corner of 2f1 torn, clean tear to 4v2 touching letter. Good copies in contemporary Spanish straight-grained crimson morocco, double gilt ruled to a panel design, raised bands, spine in four double gilt ruled compartments, gilt lettering, little worming and minor repair at head and foot, inscription ‘estas (?) de este libro stan registradas (?) (?) se vendan juardan de la casa (?) (?) (?) deside Junio 1654 Vano dia 5’ to verso of t-p, occasional early marginalia.

Handsomely bound copies of the two parts of this monumental history of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, including extensive accounts of the conquests of Mexico and Peru.

Prudencio de Sandoval (1533-1620) was a Benedictine monk, a historian and the bishop of Tuy and Pamplona. His most famous works are encyclopaedic saints’ lives and histories of the kings of Spain, which are considered fundamental historical sources to this day. The first part of the ‘Historia…del emperador Carlos V’ was published in 1603 and the second in 1614, when the first was also reprinted. Like Sandoval’s other works, it featured ample references to and the reproduction of epigraphic material and documents, e.g., the edict of Worms, some of which are no longer extant. Vol. 1 begins with a genealogical overview of Charles V’s ancestry. The historical narrative begins in 1500, the year of Charles V’s birth, an event anticipated by prophetic overtones. The ‘Historia’ analysed the splendour achieved through difficulties in C16 Spain, at a moment in which Habsburg pre-eminence was in decline. In addition to the Emperor’s life and the annals of his reign, it provides accounts of the Ottoman wars, relationships with other states and exploration, including a long section on the discovery and conquest of New Spain by Hernando Cortes in 1519 (I, 159-90) and those of Peru (I, 680-92 and II, 529-38). The work discusses approximately one year and a half of Charles V’s reign in each chapter; vol. 1 ends in 1528, vol. 2 spans the years 1528-53.

An elegantly bound monument to the glorious days of the Habsburg Empire. According to Palau, the printer Pedro Escuer from Zaragoza added the date 1634 to the t-p of several copies of the 1614 edition printed in Pamplona (Palau 297147, 1614 ed.). Of a total of 9 and 7 copies of the 1614 and 1634 editions respectively, which we have been able to consultor for which collation was available, nearly fifty per cent do not have the vol. 2 engravings. Its absence appears to be a variant.

Brunet V, 124; Palau 297147: ‘sólo consistía en cambio de portada de la de 1614’; Alden 634/121; Sabin 76426: ‘contains accounts of the conquests of Mexico and Peru.’ Not in BM STC Sp.


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Litterae annuae provinciae Paraquariae Societatis Jesu

Antwerp, Jean van Meurs, 1636.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo., pp. 168. Roman letter; few decorated initials; one blank corner of repair to title page, some age browning, occasional lateral underlining in red pencil. A good copy in contemporary vellum, early title inscription on spine and shelfmark on front cover, all edges red; lightly worn joints; front pastedown and endpaper from eighteenth-century Spanish manuscript letter; on title, two nineteen- and twenty-century library stamps and contemporary inscription ‘Del Diacceti Mon…bro’, probably member of the Florentine noble family; early account note on rear end paper verso.

First edition of this remarkable report from the Jesuit missions in Paraguay. Nicola Mastrilli (1568-1653), from Naples, was a prominent churchman of the New World. After joining the Jesuit order, he was sent to Peru, where he changed his surname into Durán and graduated at the University of Lima. He distinguished himself as a zealous preacher, directing in Juli (Bolivia) the first Jesuit mission deeply engaged with the evangelisation of the local population. In 1623, he was elected supervisor of the province of Paraguay and then of the whole Peru. His care for the Indians was all but common among the Spanish establishment and was questioned even by some members of his order.

These letters, addressed to the general of the Society, Muzio Vitelleschi, recorded the fast expansion of Jesuit activities in the southern region of the Spanish Viceroyalty, mainly between 1626 and 1627. They were written on Mastrilli’s behalf by his confrere and collaborator, the Belgian Jean Rançonier. As other contemporary reports from the Americas and the Levant, the letters met immediate success and were translated into French two years later.

Alden, 636/37; Medina, BHA 953; Sabin, 21407; Palau, 77442.


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BRESSANI, Francesco Giuseppe


Breue relatione d’alcune missioni de’ PP. della Compagnia di Giesù nella Nuoua Francia del P. Francesco Gioseppe Bressani

Macerata, Per gli heredi d’Agostino Grisei, 1653.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. (iv), 8, ff. 9-10, pp. 11-127, (i). π², A⁴, χB² B⁴, (-B1) C-Q⁴. Roman letter, with some Italic. Large woodcut printer’s device on title page, floriated woodcut initials, modern bookplate of J. A. Freilich on pastedown. Age yellowing, light browning and spotting in places. A very good copy entirely unsophisticated in contemporary vellum over thin boards.

Exceptionally rare and important first edition of this work by the Jesuit Bressiani giving the first general description in Italian of the Jesuit missions in Canada among the Huron and Iroquois tribes. “Francesco Giuseppe Bressani published his Breve Relatione in Italian in 1653. It is the only part of the voluminous Jesuit Relations or Relations des Jésuites that is in Italian. It is a factual account of the years Bressani spent in New France as a missionary among the settlers and Native people. At the same time it is a vision of the possibilities of future Italian settlement in the New World. As a result Bressani’s chronicle may be examined as a testament to his religious faith and to his imagination in constructing the image of a martyr.” Joseph J. Pivato.

Bressani was born in Rome in 1612 and in 1626 joined the Society of Jesus. In 1642 Bressani was in Canada where he first worked in the French settlement of Quebec and the following year was sent to Trois Rivières to the Algonquin mission. In April, 1644, on his way west to the Huron missions he was captured by the Iroquois who killed one of his Huron companions and then took Bressani, a French boy, and five other Huron captives south into the territory which is now New York State. They tortured him for two months, before he was ransomed by Dutch settlers at Fort Orange and sent back to France in November, 1644. The following year he was back in Canada working at the Huron Missions until their destruction by Iroquois attacks four years later. In 1649 a war-party of some twelve hundred warriors attacked Huronia. By this time many Iroquois had firearms which they had procured from the Dutch on the Hudson River, the Jesuits were forced to retreat east to the territory of Quebec. Bressani, however, continued to work with the scattered and fugitive Hurons for some months back in the original Quebec settlements. Only his failing health forced him to return to Italy in 1650.

He opens his description with reference to Pope Urban VIII letter of 1638 that forbade the enslavement of Natives in the New World. As subjects of the missions the natives were recognised as human beings with souls that needed to be saved. It is clear that Bressani shared these ideals and enthusiastically followed them in his mission work. The Breve Relatione is organised into three parts. The first presents a very positive image of the missions: Bressani describes the geography and vegetation of Canada, and then deals with the Native people. The second describes the conversion of the Native people and the many difficulties encountered by the Jesuits who arrived to convert them. The third gives us graphic details about the suffering, torture, and martyrdom of the missionaries including the author. Bressani goes into great detail describing the society of the Hurons. He lists their food and feast celebrations, their communal singing and dances, explains marriage practices and compares them to those of the ancient Jews. He points out that in their system of government tribal chiefs are determined by succession by way of the mother’s line. In their system of justice crimes of theft and murder are dealt with through fines and gift giving for reparation. It is clear that he admires these people for their honesty, hospitality, and inherent sense of right and wrong.

He also describes the many obstacles the Jesuits encountered: the harsh climate, river rapids and waterfalls, the dangers of the journeys due to Iroquois attacks, the problems with the different Indian languages, conflict with the Indian medicine men, and the plagues which killed large groups of Natives. In the second part he includes his letter to his superior in which he recounts his capture by the Iroquois, his tortures, forced travels, beatings, starvation, mutilations, and final rescue. The third and final part of the Breve Relatione deals with the sufferings of the missionaries at the hands of the Iroquois in which Bressani gives several accounts of torture and martyrdom, reproduced from other volumes of the Jesuit Relations written in French, including the martyrdom of Father Isaac Jogues, Father Charles Garnier, and Noel Chabanel. He also recounts the fate of Father Anne de Noue who died of cold when he got lost in the snow.

“In the Italian we can almost hear Bressani’s voice as he argues that their (the Hurons’) intellectual capabilities and skills are as good as those of any bright Europeans. They are capable of learning and knowledge and of showing faith. What we find in the first chapters of Breve Relatione is an image of the noble savage, long before this idea was expressed by Jean Jacques Rousseau in 1778.” Joseph J. Pivato.

An excellent copy of this exceptionally rare work.

Not in BM STC It. C16th. Church 524. Sabin 7734 “very rare” JFB B493.


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La Sphere des deux mondes, composee en Francois, par Darinel, pasteur des Amadis

Antwerp, Iehan Richard, au Soleil d’Or, 1555.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. ff. (iv) 57 (i.e. 58), (ii) . π⁴ A-M⁴, N4(N2 folding+’N3′), O-P⁴ last blank. Roman and Italic letter. Woodcut printer’s device on title, another on verso of last, woodcut initials, historiated woodcut tailpiece, typographical ornaments, 28 small woodcut illustrations in text, 19 full page maps, one folding. Age yellowing, t-p slightly dusty, two small tears in lower margin just touching imprint with no loss, some marginal soiling in places, the odd ink splash or mark, outer upper corner torn to map of Tunis with minor loss, tiny single worm hole in first four quires. A good copy in modern limp vellum antique, yapp edges remains of ties, spine with morocco label gilt.

A most interesting and unusual cosmography, exceptionally rare and beautifully illustrated with 19 important early maps including a fine world map and the most important Bellère map of the New World. Boileau de Bouillon was savant polymath who had extensive knowledge of various languages, principally French, Flemish, Latin, German and Spanish. He seems to have lived for many years in Liege and Antwerp before joining the service of Charles V with whose forces he travelled to Germany, France, Hungary and Italy. He was named ‘Commissaire et Controleur’ of the town of Cambrai for his services, but fell in disgrace shortly afterwards and had to take refuge in Paris, where he was taken in by Nicolas de Herberay, ‘Seigneur des Essarts’ who was also famous for his translations. He made his living with the pen as a poet and translator, but also with a particular interest in geographies and map-making. Apart from the fine series of maps in this work he published two very important original maps of Burgundy and Belgium.

This work is composed, curiously, of both text and poetry. The maps are not of his creation but are most judiciously chosen as the most up to date and accurate of the period. The 19 woodcut maps include a beautiful cordiform map of the world: “Universalis Cosmographia” and a very rare map of the Americas: Jean Bellère “Peru, brevis exactaque totius Novi Orbis ejusque Insularum descriptio recens a Joan Bellero edita.” This map “was popular during the middle of the sixteenth century and had great influence in showing more accurately the size and shape of the great South American continent” ‘World’. It is a particularly important and influential map, illustrating the south of the US, Central America, the Antilles, Bermuda and the Azores, and South America down to Magellan’s Strait. Apart from ‘Cuzco’ ‘Xaquixaguana’ and ‘Quito’, only coastal towns are covered, although the mountains of the southern USA, the Andes and the river Amazon are shown. Each map is accompanied by a curious cosmographical stanza. This is a particularly rare work and according to American Book Prices Current, no copy sold at auction in the past 35 years.

BM STC Dutch C16th p. 59 (under Darinel.) Alden & Landis 555/4. ‘Contains also the Bellère map of the New World found in edns of Cieza de Leon & Gomara of 1554’. Church 101. Sabin 18576. “A poetical volume of some rarity” see ‘The World Encompassed’ 201. JCB I:185.


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Sanctum Provinciale Concilium Mexici.

México, Juan Ruiz, 1622.


FIRST EDITION. Folio, ff. (6), 102, (1), 38, (1), missing final blank. Neat Roman letter; title with full-page engraved architectural border (outer edges frayed), secondary title within large woodcut frame, large decorated initials and elaborate hand- and tail-pieces in Spanish colonial style; light mostly marginal foxing to few leaves, light damp stain to lower gutter and foot of last gathering. A very good copy in contemporary limp vellum; a bit stained, reglued long since, spine holed; early shelf mark to front cover; unusual early monogram ‘AE LC OC’ branded on upper and lower edges; small “MM” ink stamps on verso of title and f. 52r; eighteenth-century handwritten monogram [RHPB?] at foot of first five leaves, the same hand annotating in Spanish in margins of gathering Hh and Kk; earlier extensive marginal annotations in Latin on first two leaves.

Extremely rare first edition of the decrees issued by the third Mexican Council of 1585 and approved by the papacy four years later. Gathered by the Viceroy and Archbishop Pedro Moya de Contreras, this highly influential assembly brought the decrees of the Council of Trent into the religious and social life of the New World, drawing up a legislation in use until the early twentieth century. Bishops attending the Council focused mainly on doctrine, the internal organization of the Mexican province, missionary activities and the rights of local people.

Their decisions were first recorded in Spanish and later translated into Latin, so as to be confirmed by the pope. Yet, the Roman cardinals’ committee in charge of approval rewrote a large part of the decrees, strictly sticking to those of the Tridentine Council. As a result, the final official text came out only in 1622. The printed marginalia of the volume refers constantly to the sources of the Mexican decrees. Along with canon law and papal bulls, they comprise the deliberations of the Council of Trent, of the five Synods held in Milan under Carlo Borromeo, as well as assemblies of the American and Spanish Church in Lima, Quiroga, Guadix and Granada. The final part of the book, and perhaps the most important, is devoted to the statutes of the recently-established Mexican Church.

The beautiful engraving of the title shows the personification of Faith and Church in a classical architectural frame. It is signed at the bottom by the Dutch artist Samuel Stradanus. Stradanus worked in New Spain from about 1604. His most prominent patron was the promoter of this belated first edition, Archbishop Juan Pérez de la Serna (1573-1627), whose arms appear at the head of the title.

Graesse, II, 245; Medina, México 343; Palau, 293978; Sabin, 48373. Not in JFB or Alden.


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ACOSTA, José de


De natura novi orbis … et de promulgatione Evangelii apud babaros.

Cologne, officina Birckmannica, 1596.


8vo., pp. (16), 581, (3). Roman letter, little italic. Jesuit device on title; slightly yellowed, occasional oil mark in margins; tiny burn mark affecting one letter on p. 1 and 373; few unprinted words completed in contemporary manuscript and later pencil at bottom of pp. 126 and 274. A good copy, in an early seventeenth-century English brown calf, blind-tooled plain style, probably Cambridge, multiple ruled borders with saw tooth edge, double fillet, central undecorated frame with fleurons at corners; a bit scratched and worn; rebacked, spine part remounted, all edges red; pastedowns from an early Roman letter edition of the King James Bible (2nd Maccabees, III, 1-21 and III, 25-40; IV, 1-2).

Third unaugmented edition of these pioneering treatises on the geography, anthropology and evangelisation of South America, previously published in Salamanca in 1588/ 1589 and 1595. José de Acosta (1540 – 1600) was among the first Jesuit missionaries to embark for the Spanish New World. He spent much of his life in Peru. The main settlement of the order was at that time in the village of Juli, on Lake Titicaca. Here, a college was set up to study the languages of the natives, while the newly-funded Jesuit printing press issued the first printed book of the Americas in 1577. Later, Acosta moved to Lima and taught theology at the university.

In the Third Council of Lima (1582 – 1583) reorganising the American church, Acosta took a very active part and became its official historian. Following an adventurous journey through Mexico, in 1587 he head back to Spain, where he was appointed head of the Jesuit college in Valladolid and later Salamanca. A prolific writer, he is mostly famous for his very successful Historia natural y moral de las Indias. This knowledgeable, realistic and detailed description of the New World was sought after and soon translated into Italian, French, German, Dutch and English. The Natura novi orbis opening this edition represents the early draft of the Historia. In it, Acosta provided the first account of altitude sickness, which affected him while crossing the Andes. He also divided the Amerindians into three categories, acknowledging the Incas and Aztecs as fairly advanced societies in the civilisation process.

The second part comprises a very innovative essay on evangelisation. Acosta struggles to demonstrate to his contemporaries that Amerindians were part of the original God’s plan for mankind and thus were not inferior creatures undeserved of being Christianised and saved. In grounding his argument, the idea that the first inhabitants of America migrated from the biblical world (specifically from Asia), played a crucial role. Indeed, he was the first writer to postulate the existence of a land bridge at the northern or southern extremities of the two continents, long before the discovery of the Bering Strait. In his missionary zeal, Acosta was much concerned with the preparation and morality of priests, who he encouraged to study the aboriginal languages as an essential part of their duties.

‘One of the earliest writers who have treated philosophically of America and its production.’ J. Sabin, A Dictionary of Books Related to America, I, p. 17.

BM STC Ger., p. 2; Adams, A 124; Brunet, I, 41; Graesse, I, 15; Leclerc, 4; Palau y Dulcet, I, 1979; Sabin, I, 120. Not in JFB nor in Alden.


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